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Pulver aims high for Wallabies

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Update:6:31PM It's 500 days until the Rugby World Cup and ambitious ARU boss Bill Pulver reckons the new-age Wallabies are capable of winning all 19 Test matches between now and then.

Coach Ewen McKenzie will reveal his 32-man squad for Australia's three-Test June series against France on May 22 and even before the international season kicks off Pulver is setting the bar impossibly high.

"There's a lot of cause for optimism," Pulver said at the unveiling of the 2014 Wallabies jumper in Sydney on Wednesday.

"We're probably higher on the ladder in Super Rugby than we've ever been and you can just tell there's a terrific young playing group coming through."

In the Brumbies, NSW Waratahs and Western Force, Australia has three teams in the top five on the Super Rugby ladder, but even Wallabies players acknowledge Test rugby is a whole different ball game.

Pulver, though, believes the third-ranked Wallabies have the chance to make a massive pre-World Cup statement during an "extraordinary" Test programme in 2014 that features matches against every other team ranked in the world's top seven.

After hosting France, Australia face the world champion All Blacks three times, plus South Africa and Argentina twice in the Rugby Championship.

The Wallabies wind up the year with a five-Test tour to Europe playing the Barbarians, Wales, France, Ireland and England.

"So we'll play every major team," Pulver said.

"(With) the good playing group coming through, I think there's a lot to look forward to.

"You can't avoid having an eye on the World Cup. It comes around once every four years. It really defines the leading nation in rugby.

"Having said that, it really is one step at a time. I'd like to think the team's focus is on the first Test - June 7 against the French.

"Ewen will announce the squad in the next couple of weeks and you'll see it is really with a view towards the World Cup, but quite capable of winning every single game between now and then.

"But a couple of games against New Zealand and South Africa, the number one and number two in the world, are going to be a true test."

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